Feminism — or at least what it means to embrace it — is a mess of opinions nowadays. While we almost always hold a united front on such things as equal pay and women's health, there are separate factions for everything from dating to dressing.
Journalists Heather Wood Rudúlph (who used to live in L.A. and work for the L.A. Daily News) and Jennifer Armstrong routinely dissect these issues and more on their website, TheSexyFeminist. Their ideas take print form today with the release of Sexy Feminism, a book that's both an historical guide to through the feminist movements and an advice guide for anyone struggling with how to practice feminist principles in a society of slut-shaming, bullying and corporate ladder climbing.
“There's the idea that feminism was something that nobody wants to identify with or … that it's something we don't need anymore or it's the reason why women are so conflicted, etc. etc.,” says Rudúlph. “There's so many negative connotations of that word, but we were feeling and seeing in our peers just the opposite — the excitement and the fun of it and the reason why it thrives and why it's benefitting our lives today and tomorrow.”
Which makes this an opportune time for the authors to publish their book. The word feminist is so readily used by (or to describe) public figures — both those who seem to understand what it represents today (Zooey Deshanel, for example, recently told Glamour magazine “We can't be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?”) and those whom the writers believe do not.
“We'd rather see people show they're a feminist through their actions instead of declaring it,” says Armstrong, name-checking Sarah Palin here as an example of someone who doesn't follow that ethos. “But we love to see more people saying they're feminist because we think that's a huge part of making feminisim sexy.”
And how exactly do Armstrong and Rudúlph suggest doing this? Their book advises on finding positive role models and healthy dating relationships. It also talks about issues stereotypically considered taboo for true feminists: dieting and waxing.
“Getting hair ripped from my vagina by a stranger — would I call that a feminist act? No. I can't define it as such,” says Rudúlph. “However, if I have decided that personal grooming to this degree is something I'm comfortable with [and] it gives me benefits in other areas such as my sex life or whether it's just the time it takes for maintenance as a busy mom … then it truly is something I'm doing because I enjoy and not because my husband prefers the look of a 15-year-old porn star.”
In the end, she says, “Sexy feminism is accessible feminism. You don't have to sign up for a women's studies class to call yourself a feminist … It's not this tiny club of militant women anymore.”
Do you agree with Armstrong and Rudúlph's views on feminism? Will you read their book? Discuss in the comments section.